Donnerstag, 24.05.2018 21:19 Uhr

UN reports rise in killings, kidnappings of journalists

Verantwortlicher Autor: Jochen Raffelberg Oxford, 02.05.2018, 12:11 Uhr
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Oxford [ENA] UNESCO has reported a substantial rise of violence against journalists resulting in the killing of 530 reporters between 2012 and 2016, and the kidnapping, enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention and torture of many others. The Arab region has seen a sharp rise in journalists taken hostage by violent extremist groups, the Global Report 2017/18 on World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development says.

Marking tomorrow’s (May 3rd) World Press Freedom Day Oxford University has announced the publication of UNESCO’s flagship study whose lead authors include the Oxford Program in Comparative Media Law and Policy (PCMLP) researchers Nicole Stremlau, Iginio Gagliardone and Monroe Price. The study charts recent trends in global media and communications, including the rise in algorithmic pluralism, the increasing polarization of the public sphere, growing inequalities, and the role played by private spaces for expression (such as social media platforms) in shaping public debates. According to Oxford the publication comes at a timely moment and will be launched at various events including at UN Headquarters in New York.

The 200-page report maps key transformations in freedom of expression and media development globally between 2012 and 2017, a period it says was marked by profound social, political and technological shifts, and examines trends in media freedom, media pluralism, media independence and safety of journalists. While access to a plurality of media platforms had continued to expand and the availability of media content dramatically increased, these trends had been accompanied by the rise of a new form of what some have called ‘polarized pluralism’: multiple kinds of information and programming are available, but each segmented group largely accesses only a limited piece.

Media independence was under increased pressure with deterioration indicated by declining public trust in news media and the autonomy of independent regulators facing pressure across most regions. However, in the context of increasing pressure to respond to content on social media that incites violence or hatred, Internet companies had launched self-regulatory initiatives to counter hate speech, violent extremism, misogyny, racism and so- called ‘fake news’. In Africa, the Arab States and the Asia Pacific region, journalists had self-reported substantial increases of journalistic autonomy.

Although journalism education, which reinforces independent professional standards in the media, had seen a notable growth in the availability of online resources, donor support for independent NGOs doing media development had fluctuated. On safety of journalists between 2012 and 2016, 530 journalists were killed, an average of two deaths per week, according to the report. Due to continued conflict and instability, killings in parts of the Arab region remained very high. Impunity for crimes against journalists remained the norm, with justice in only one in 10 cases.

Continuing on earlier trends, there has also been a substantial rise in other forms of violence against journalists, including in kidnapping, enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention and torture. The Arab region has seen a sharp rise in journalists taken hostage by violent extremist groups. The UN session will be opened with an address from the UN Secretary General António Guterres, and panellists will include Nicole Stremlau, as lead researcher of the publication. While Stremlau is Head of the PCMLP at the Oxford Center for Socio-Legal Studies, Professor Price founded the Program of which he is still a research fellow.

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